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(Nature)   Russia, Japan, Europe, India and World Superpower Canada are together aiming to establish permanent bases on the Moon. NASA, um, isn't   (blogs.nature.com) divider line 46
    More: Fail, World Superpower Canada, moons, NASA, NASA Administrator, Russia, Japan, Europe, Dragon capsule  
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1271 clicks; posted to Geek » on 23 May 2012 at 11:29 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-05-23 11:15:19 AM
NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.
 
2012-05-23 11:37:39 AM

Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.


Why can't we harvest and use the Helium 3 there?
 
2012-05-23 11:39:05 AM
I don't care if it's not economically feasible, or not good science, or any other such rational reason for not having a moonbase. It's a frickin' moonbase! What other arguments do you need?! HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?!
 
2012-05-23 11:39:24 AM

ajgeek: Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.

Why can't we harvest and use the Helium 3 there?


Because cloning humans isn't ethical
 
2012-05-23 11:40:21 AM
Don't blame me; I voted for Gingrich.
 
2012-05-23 11:40:30 AM
I don't really care who builds a moon base, just as long as it gets done.

We need to establish a permanent presence in space. As long as we remain earthbound, the human race is in danger. It's a single point of failure -- lose the earth, lose everything.

I'll bet the dinosaurs wished they built moon bases. Waitaminute... what if they did? Get Michael Bay on the horn, stat! I smell blockbuster!
 
2012-05-23 11:40:31 AM
So, the US is the only country not run by Bond villains. Yay.
 
2012-05-23 11:41:01 AM

Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.


Also, isn't moon dust pretty much impossible to keep from eventually getting in everything, and basically about as harmful to the lungs as asbestos, since at a microscopic level it is incredibly sharp and jagged compared to dust on earth. I'd imagine any permanent moon base would be a lawsuit from the law offices of James Sokolove just waiting to happen.

Until we figure out how to do helium-3 fusion, the moon is a pretty useless target for human exploration. I personally like the idea of asteroid missions better because there is more science to be done and it makes a good dress rehearsal for having to divert a NEO on a collision course.
 
2012-05-23 11:42:43 AM

Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.


It's the low gravity that makes the moon attractive for making bases.

The high cost of moving things from earth makes space expensive. There are no resources in orbit to use, and microgravity is poisonous to humans.

The trick could be to start over on the moon.
You can grow food, build houses, and raise families there. The launch costs are lower and the radiation shielding is cheap.

We can populate the rest of the solar system with people and equipment from the moon.
Which makes it Great target of interest for everyone... Except Obama. He thinks we done with all moon stuff.
 
2012-05-23 11:45:22 AM

ajgeek: Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.

Why can't we harvest and use the Helium 3 there?


Because we haven't even figured out how to fuse deuterium here on earth and get more energy out of the reaction than we put in, and that type of fusion reaction is a hell of a lot easier to engineer than helium 3 fusion. With the current state of fusion technology, you're better off mounting an expedition to fantasyland to harvest unicorn farts for power.
 
2012-05-23 11:45:22 AM
www.historyplace.com
*gshhk-beep* "Been there...Done that." *beep*
 
2012-05-23 11:45:52 AM
That's great and all but how exactly do Russia, Japan, Europe, India and Canada hope to do such a venture? Russia hasn't sent anything beyond low earth orbit since 1988 (and its space program such as it is only exists at all because NASA funded them when the Soviet Union collapsed), Europe can't even send one rover the size of Spirit & Oppy to Mars, Canada has no real capability of its own (thus they just want to be involved in anything they can so they can get a ride), and India is a ways off from from getting that far. Not to mention a moonbase is going to be vastly more expensive than the International Space Station, I just don't see how any of them or together can pull it off. We could, we just don't want to pay the outrageous cost to do so.
 
2012-05-23 11:48:04 AM

tankjr: ajgeek: Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.

Why can't we harvest and use the Helium 3 there?

Because cloning humans isn't ethical


Sure it is. Just make sure the clones don't find out and everything will be dandy. Maybe invent a robot with a smiley face to keep the clones in check.
 
2012-05-23 11:49:11 AM

Mad_Radhu: I personally like the idea of asteroid missions better because there is more science to be done and it makes a good dress rehearsal for having to divert a NEO on a collision course.


Not to mention asteroids/comets are full of minerals and water. Has to be more feasible to mine asteroids than the moon.
 
2012-05-23 11:51:50 AM
We're spending money on developing missiles to destroy their biatch-ass moon base.

In your face, socialism.
 
2012-05-23 11:53:44 AM

Grither: I don't care if it's not economically feasible, or not good science, or any other such rational reason for not having a moonbase. It's a frickin' moonbase! What other arguments do you need?! HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?!


This is a man I would elect president.
"we must invade Iran for the oil needed to make flying aircraft carriers, because they are awesome!"

/but you must raise the maximum age for military enrollment, because I want to be in the moon wars.
/of all the possible deaths, dying on the moon is one of the better ones.
 
2012-05-23 11:53:50 AM

bbfreak: Mad_Radhu: I personally like the idea of asteroid missions better because there is more science to be done and it makes a good dress rehearsal for having to divert a NEO on a collision course.

Not to mention asteroids/comets are full of minerals and water. Has to be more feasible to mine asteroids than the moon.


Yeah I've got to believe their looking where the money might be - we've got a pretty good idea of what the moon has to offer (science aside) and we know that a certain fraction of asteroids have the potential to be a pot of gold from a metals stand point.
 
2012-05-23 11:55:52 AM

way south: Jubeebee: NASA has better things to do than a permanent human-colonized moon base. While you do get the benefits of a shallower gravity well and lots of aluminum oxide, it's still not a terribly hospitable place for humans. There isn't even enough water on the moon to make mining the aluminum worthwhile; there's no way to make the fuel needed to move the finished product anywhere worthwhile.

If you're going to build a biological-friendly habitat somewhere other than Earth, you might as well put it in solar orbit so you don't have to shiver through the night.

It's the low gravity that makes the moon attractive for making bases.

The high cost of moving things from earth makes space expensive. There are no resources in orbit to use, and microgravity is poisonous to humans.

The trick could be to start over on the moon.
You can grow food, build houses, and raise families there. The launch costs are lower and the radiation shielding is cheap.

We can populate the rest of the solar system with people and equipment from the moon.
Which makes it Great target of interest for everyone... Except Obama. He thinks we done with all moon stuff.


First you have to build a spacecraft factory on the moon, which is going to be an expensive as hell step one unless you plan to do it all with robots. Hell, even with robots it would be hard to create a complete facility to mine materials, refine the raw products, and turn them into spacecraft. Building in space probably will never be cheap and easy until you get the the point where you can chuck a capsule of nanomachines at an asteroid and have them shake and bake you a spacecraft with no human interaction.

In the near term, it would be a lot cheaper and easier to engineer a huge heavy lift booster and do the construction on Earth, with some final assembly happening in orbit for a large spacecraft. The biggest problem we had is that the Shuttle wasted 40 years of NASA time and money, when they should have been just developing another Saturn V class heavy lift rocket that was simpler and cheaper to build with newer technology.
 
2012-05-23 11:55:53 AM

flaminio: I don't really care who builds a moon base, just as long as it gets done.

We need to establish a permanent presence in space. As long as we remain earthbound, the human race is in danger. It's a single point of failure -- lose the earth, lose everything.

I'll bet the dinosaurs wished they built moon bases. Waitaminute... what if they did? Get Michael Bay Roger Corman on the horn, stat! I smell blockbuster!


FTFY.

Dinonauts would make an ideal Syfy flick.
 
2012-05-23 11:59:47 AM

bbfreak: Mad_Radhu: I personally like the idea of asteroid missions better because there is more science to be done and it makes a good dress rehearsal for having to divert a NEO on a collision course.

Not to mention asteroids/comets are full of minerals and water. Has to be more feasible to mine asteroids than the moon.


James Cameron and a lot of other rich guys seem to think so with their new business venture.
 
2012-05-23 12:00:32 PM

way south: The trick could be to start over on the moon.
You can grow food, build houses, and raise families there. The launch costs are lower and the radiation shielding is cheap.


Using what resources? The moon is mostly silica and aluminum oxide. The only viable form of energy is solar power, and any solar array of decent size would get ruined from moon dust, as Mad_Radhu said. Even if you could get solar collectors to work, there isn't anything you can use to turn into fuel to take advantage of the low gravity. The water is buried deep underground and is located in the exact opposite places where you can use solar power to run machinery. You'd need one hell of an extension cord to power the drilling equipment, except you have no resources to make the extension cord either.

way south: We can populate the rest of the solar system with people and equipment from the moon.
Which makes it Great target of interest for everyone... Except Obama. He thinks we done with all moon stuff.


This isn't political. The moon just isn't that valuable. All organic compounds would have to be shipped in before we could start food production, all of the machinery would break constantly, and your scrimping colonists would be frozen in the lunar night for 30 days at a time.
 
2012-05-23 12:01:51 PM
The hardest part of this moon landing is going to be getting the Indian "Astronauts" to stop dancing and singing.
 
2012-05-23 12:02:55 PM
Building a moonbase would be pointless, wasteful and stupid.
 
2012-05-23 12:06:58 PM
way south

The trick could be to start over on the moon.
You can grow food, build houses, and raise families there. The launch costs are lower and the radiation shielding is cheap.

We can populate the rest of the solar system with people and equipment from the moon.


Uh, no. First of all, we have no idea what happens when a fetus develops in one-sixth gravity. I don't think many women want to volunteer to find out. Second, once you spend enough time (probably around six months or so) in such low gravity, you can't adapt to full gravity on earth. You're permanently exiled.

And once your body is unaccustomed to walking around at one G, you're unable to withstand periods of acceleration that would put you under higher loads.

That's before we get to the problem of whether we can grow food there - maybe, maybe not. Where do you get the water? Oxygen?

I'm all for space exploration. But a permanent moonbase now is a colossal waste of money and would just delay the time when we could actually get in to space in a practical manner. For now, small sats that study Earth climate and solar activity, plus people in orbit learning how to solve problems of living in space long term, those are where we need to invest.
 
2012-05-23 12:12:11 PM
...So America has a sufficient quantity of hookers and blackjack?
 
2012-05-23 12:26:43 PM

MisterRonbo: way south

The trick could be to start over on the moon.
You can grow food, build houses, and raise families there. The launch costs are lower and the radiation shielding is cheap.

We can populate the rest of the solar system with people and equipment from the moon.


Uh, no. First of all, we have no idea what happens when a fetus develops in one-sixth gravity. I don't think many women want to volunteer to find out. Second, once you spend enough time (probably around six months or so) in such low gravity, you can't adapt to full gravity on earth. You're permanently exiled.

And once your body is unaccustomed to walking around at one G, you're unable to withstand periods of acceleration that would put you under higher loads.

That's before we get to the problem of whether we can grow food there - maybe, maybe not. Where do you get the water? Oxygen?

I'm all for space exploration. But a permanent moonbase now is a colossal waste of money and would just delay the time when we could actually get in to space in a practical manner. For now, small sats that study Earth climate and solar activity, plus people in orbit learning how to solve problems of living in space long term, those are where we need to invest.


If what happens in lunar gravity is bad, what happens in zero g will be worse. The moon is the closest body with reasonably strong gravity.
Its also suspected to have water for crops and fuel, as well as the metals needed to make Rocket components.
The point of a permanent moon base would be to study what happens to the human body in low gravity, as well as to see of producing machinery off world is possible.

As for the cost: the first moon base will probably be a one way lander loaded down with extra supplies. About as permanent as the ISS, but it's a crucial first step.
 
2012-05-23 12:31:44 PM
We're becoming the Microsoft of world governments.

We'll let everyone else take the risk, then we'll use our institutional experience and vast reserves to buy and support a stodgy but working version at some point in the future.
 
2012-05-23 12:57:39 PM

Jubeebee: Using what resources? The moon is mostly silica and aluminum oxide. The only viable form of energy is solar power, and any solar array of decent size would get ruined from moon dust, as Mad_Radhu said.


Not that I disagree that a permanent moon base would be expensive and difficult however solar power is not the only option, in fact it is really not a viable option for long term power. Dust is hardly the problem. The lunar day is about 29 days long so night is going to last about 15 days. You're going to need a lot of batteries! You could use space based solar but that would probably be pretty expensive. What the moon does have plenty of is thorium and we already know where it is (it's easy to find). Molten salt thorium (LFTR) reactors would be a excellent choice for powering a lunar base. The difficulty would be starting the first one up as you would need a supply of fissile material.

Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned a space elevator. We have the technology today to build a lunar space elevator from the moon's surface to the L1 Lagrange point. If you were going to have a permanent moon base I would think that would be the way to go.

Personally I prefer that we continue to focus on robotic missions but if I was given the choice between spending the money one human space flight versus more military spending I would vote for human space flight.
 
2012-05-23 01:04:15 PM

way south: If what happens in lunar gravity is bad, what happens in zero g will be worse. The moon is the closest body with reasonably strong gravity.


I suppose you could create artificial gravity on the moon almost as easily as in space.
 
2012-05-23 01:05:41 PM

way south:
"we must invade Iran for the oil needed to make flying aircraft carriers, because they are awesome!"
.


pfffftttt! A flying aircraft carrier seems kinda redundant, doesn't it?

Now, an invisible aircraft carrier . . . that would be awesome!


/a bit tricky for deck landings, tho'
 
2012-05-23 01:07:21 PM
human greed is ruining the earth, it is about time we ruin the moon
 
2012-05-23 01:15:42 PM
It's a start to Mars. Every major nation on this planet will have to get together for that trip.
 
2012-05-23 01:26:58 PM

rwfan: What the moon does have plenty of is thorium and we already know where it is (it's easy to find). Molten salt thorium (LFTR) reactors would be a excellent choice for powering a lunar base. The difficulty would be starting the first one up as you would need a supply of fissile material.


You'd need to lift the entirety of the reactor components to the moon to get started, and then assemble them on the surface without having moon dust muck up the works. And the entire time you're doing that, you'd need to use solar panels for power anyway. All of that before you even get a habitat up and running. It's 10 steps back for 1 step forward.

There are more and better materials in asteroids and comets that we can mine in cleaner conditions than we can on the moon. And there is more energy that is easier to harvest in solar orbit than there is on the moon. The lunar surface is the least rewarding and most challenging destination in the neighborhood.
 
2012-05-23 01:50:43 PM
Oh, so they've solved the problems with bone decalcification and muscle atrophy that we experience in microgravity environments such as on the moon? What's that? They haven't? So this is just another pie-in-the-sky thought experiment that is completely unrealizable with current technology? Right...back to playing Civ, let me know when any real developments happen.
 
2012-05-23 02:03:23 PM

rwfan: Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned a space elevator. We have the technology today to build a lunar space elevator from the moon's surface to the L1 Lagrange point. If you were going to have a permanent moon base I would think that would be the way to go.


Space elevators are a fantasy that no one involved in actual space planning has seriously considered because, well, they are fantasy. The tensile force is so high that even idealized carbon nanotubes aren't up to the task, let alone an honest to god 250 mile one. And what are you talking about the L1? Do you mean the L1 of the Earth Moon system? Some back of the envelope calculation shows such a tether would be around 57,000 km long, with the need for 3000 km stretch for apogee/perigee differences.

Bunkum
 
2012-05-23 02:10:46 PM
They are going to need one big sound stage to pull this off.

/Tin Foil hat in the ready,
 
2012-05-23 02:27:50 PM
GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!

Can we maybe continue to be the leader in science and exploration? Barring that, can we at least fix a few bridges that are falling apart so we don't quite let everything our fathers left us crumble and decay?

TOO BIG, CAN'T BE DONE!
 
2012-05-23 02:27:52 PM

StrangeQ: Oh, so they've solved the problems with bone decalcification and muscle atrophy that we experience in microgravity environments such as on the moon? What's that? They haven't? So this is just another pie-in-the-sky thought experiment that is completely unrealizable with current technology? Right...back to playing Civ, let me know when any real developments happen.


There have actually been a few breakthroughs.
The problem is we know a little about the problem in micro gravity and almost nothing about the same issue in low gravity, because we've never spent more than a week on the moon.

So... Moon base.
That way we can discover things about the moon instead of continually bemoaning the fact we havnt learned anything while sitting on our keesters.
 
2012-05-23 02:49:07 PM
Canada not capable? Canadarm(couldn't have built the ISS without it), bombardier, huge aerospace industry. Canada is just as capable as anyone else.
 
2012-05-23 03:16:05 PM
NASA has better things to spend its time and money on, like Muslim outreach programs.
 
2012-05-23 05:52:23 PM
So? Good for them.
 
2012-05-23 06:26:54 PM
QUESTION: with better technology than we had in the late 1960s, would it be possible to build a lighter spacesuit than was used by Armstrong et. al.? I'm asking if more biatchin low grav jumps are possible.
 
2012-05-23 06:59:56 PM

Mad_Radhu:
Until we figure out how to do helium-3 fusion, the moon is a pretty useless target for human exploration. I personally like the idea of asteroid missions better because there is more science to be done and it makes a good dress rehearsal for having to divert a NEO on a collision course.


Getting to the asteroids with a mining barge of some description is far easier when it's built at a la grange point or it's lifting off from a much shallower gravity well. Bootstrapping from the Moon to elsewhere does kinda make sense long term.
 
2012-05-23 09:04:32 PM
Both sides are crazy, so vote Newt.
 
2012-05-24 01:16:26 PM

dedekind_cut: rwfan: Also, I am surprised no one has mentioned a space elevator. We have the technology today to build a lunar space elevator from the moon's surface to the L1 Lagrange point. If you were going to have a permanent moon base I would think that would be the way to go.

Space elevators are a fantasy that no one involved in actual space planning has seriously considered because, well, they are fantasy. The tensile force is so high that even idealized carbon nanotubes aren't up to the task, let alone an honest to god 250 mile one. And what are you talking about the L1? Do you mean the L1 of the Earth Moon system? Some back of the envelope calculation shows such a tether would be around 57,000 km long, with the need for 3000 km stretch for apogee/perigee differences.

Bunkum


Nonsense, you do not know what you are talking about. There are several materials which have the tensile strength to support a lunar space elevator. Read this paper. Now whether the benefits will ever outweigh the costs, that is another question.
 
2012-05-24 03:36:21 PM
No no nonononononononno. You're getting it all wrong. These super-powers are getting together to turn the Canadian wilderness into the surface of the moon.
 
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